I love learning what top performers do and what drives high levels of performance. As a result, I’m drawn to articles titled, “Top performers do this….” of “X% of sales people doing this outperform everyone else…. (And X is a stunningly big number.)”
The “this…” varies, usually it’s tied to what the author is trying to sell, or their pet agenda. As a result, one reads:
- Top performers use social selling
- Top performers use these technologies (insert your favorite sales tech).
- Top performers are prospecting more effectively or making more calls.
- Top performers sell with insight.
- Top performers have higher win rates and deal values.
- Top performers focus on qualification.
- Top performers embrace training and learning.
- Top performers do more of this…..
Well, of course! Dugghh! Top performers do more of the high impact things, more consistently than everyone else. They execute those things much more effectively than everyone else. That’s what makes them top performers.
But the implication in so many of these articles, is that “If you do more of this, you can be a top performer….”
By contrast, low performers do a lot of these same things. They use social selling—probably poorly, or as an excuse for not doing other things. They are prospecting, they send 1000s of emails to any email address they can get, with meaningless scripted messages. They make 1000s of dials and when they happen to get connected, they pitch their products.
So top performers and bad performers do a lot of the same things. They do a lot of the same things in the same volume, often, the volumes that low performers exceed those of top performers.
If top performers do a lot of the same things that poor performers do, what drives the difference?
A few thoughts:
- Top performers recognize there are no short cuts, they have to do the work. Poor performers constantly look for short cuts, they are looking for what’s easy. Poor performers put in the hours, top performers get the most out of every hour they put in.
- Top performers recognize they have to do the entire job, not just the easiest or favorite parts of the job. They recognize it isn’t any one thing they do, there is no single magic trick. They realize they have to leverage multiple channels of communication to engage customers. So it would stand to reason they leverage social channels, email, the phone, face to face, referrals, and other means of engaging they customer.
- But in spite of their leveraging everything they can, top performers are ruthlessly focused. They don’t waste time on activities that are unproductive. They don’t prospect aimlessly. They focus only on their ICP, they know their target customers, markets, personas and don’t deviate from those. Poor performers waste huge amounts of time with unfocused activity.
- Top performers don’t care about volumes of activity, they care about the outcomes each activity produces. As a result, we probably see low performers as more activity focused. They make their dials numbers, their email numbers, they always achieve their activity goals, because that’s how they are measured. They go through the motions, meeting these metrics, yet not producing the desired results. Top performers do the same, but focus on maximizing the outcome or results from each activity. They recognize that volume/quantity is no substitute for the results of each activity.
- Top performers are prepared. They’ve done their homework and research. They understand the key issues their customers face, why they are important, and how they can help their customers produce value in addressing those issues. They understand who their customers are–not only their personas, but who they are as people.
- Top performers focus on what’s important to the customer, not what’s important to them. They recognize their success is based on the customer achieving their goals.
- Top performers care, genuinely, they just don’t go through the motions. They really care about their customers and their success. They care about their peers and their companies. They care about their personal growth and success.
- Top performers know they have to continually learn and improve. They study, read, learn, grow. They study their profession, they learn about business and the things that drive business success. They look at others who are successful, adapting things to improve their own success. They don’t rely on the things they learned last year or five years ago, they continue to update and build on the skills they have developed in the past.
- Top performers are intensely curious–about everything. They are curious about their customers, they want to understand them, they curious about what drives their success, how they think, what they care about. They are curious about how to create success in the buying process. They are curious about how top performers work. They are curious about new approaches and new problems, they have the confidence they can figure things out.
- Top performers take ownership. They know it’s their job to produce results. They leverage everything they can, but recognize they are accountable for making things happen. And when they fail, they don’t make excuses, but learn from the experience, moving forward.
- ….and more…..
On the surface, there isn’t a lot of difference between top performers and poor performers. They do the same things, they do those things in similar volumes. Poor performers go through the motions. Top performers get the best out of every motion they go through.